Re: Consensus as primrary decision-making method w/voting back-up
From: R.N. Johnson (
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 11:07:39 -0800 (PST)
We have a voting back up in place.  It is rarely used.   If the community 
cannot reach a decision after 2 rounds of voting, we can pass a proposal at 
90%, and after 3 rounds we can pass a proposal at 70%.  Since we have 11 
households, in practice, this means that we can pass a proposal after 3 rounds 
(usually 3 meetings).   After three rounds of discussion and attempting to 
reach consensus, the group has a pretty clear idea of what the objections are 
and how they relate to community concerns and values. Since move in 5 years 
ago, this proviso has been used in response to one community member who went 
through a phase of opposing virtually all decisions.  After we used it a time 
or two, the constant blocking stopped, because it was clear the group would not 
be hostage to blocking for personal reasons.  This person expressed the reasons 
for blocking in terms that made it clear this was a decision based on anger at 
past events, not based on the
 welfare of the community or even the proposal itself.  Asking someone to 
explain their block in terms of whether is contradicted agreed upon community 
values or presented a clear risk of harm to the community really changes the 
debate, even without any formal process. I wish we had adopted a more formal  
criterion  to evaluate blocks. I think having such criteria might actually 
encourage more timid community members to speak up more strongly when they have 
an important objection that is not shared by most. 
Randa Johnson
New Brighton Cohousing
Aptos, CA
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